AP US History Document Based Question
Directions: The following question is based on the accompanying documents. You will have 60 minutes to read and analyze the documents and answer the question.
This question tests your ability to work with historical documents.
To what extent was the decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1830's was more a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790's than a change in that policy?
Source: Henry Knox, secretary of war, letter to President George Washington (June 15, 1789).
"In examining the question how the disturbances on the frontiers are to be quieted, two modes present themselves, by which the object might perhaps be effected; the first of which is by raising an army, and (destroying the resisting] tribes entirely, or 2ndly by forming treaties of peace with them, in which their rights and limits should be explicitly defined, and the treaties observed on the part of the United States with the most rigid justice, by punishing the whites, who should violate the same. In considering the first mode, an inquiry would arise, whether, under the existing circumstances of affairs, the United States have a clear right, consistently with the principles of justice and the laws of nature, to proceed to the destruction or expulsion of the savages.... The Indians being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in case of a. just war. To dispossess them on any other principle, would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a nation. But if it should be decided, on an abstract view of the situation, to remove by force the ... Indians from the territory they occupy, the finances of the United States would not at present... [continues]
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